If you’re like most sales managers, you understand the importance of having difficult conversations with your salespeople. After all, tough conversations are often the only way to get important information across, and they can be a key part of keeping your team on track. However, actually having these conversations can be easier said than done. Many sales managers struggle with how to approach complex topics, and as a result, they avoid these conversations altogether.
This is a totally avoidable mistake. But why do so many managers lack the sales leadership skills necessary to avoid this issue?
Avoiding difficult conversations will not make the problem disappear, and it can ultimately damage your relationship with your salespeople. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to make having difficult conversations much more manageable. In this blog post, we’ll share some tips on having productive and positive difficult conversations with your salespeople. Keep reading to learn more.
The importance of difficult conversations with your salespeople
Many sales managers avoid difficult conversations with their salespeople, thinking it will only lead to conflict. Of course, if you choose to be confrontational, rude, aggressive, and unfriendly, sure! You might get that conflict that you were worried about. But, if handled appropriately, these conversations can be constructive and are essential for maintaining a healthy and productive team. By addressing issues early on, you can prevent minor problems from turning into bigger ones. There’s no need to make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to everyday sales-related issues, so bring up concerns early and often to make more challenging conversations easier to navigate when they inevitably arise. Avoid mediocrity in your sales organization and manage your relationships with poise.
Difficult conversations also allow salespeople to air their concerns and offer suggestions for improvement. When done correctly, these conversations can help build trust and strengthen relationships between managers and salespeople. As a result, they should be considered an important part of any sales manager’s toolkit. But you might be asking yourself… “how do I handle these conversations?”
We have the answers.
How to prepare for a difficult conversation
There will be scenarios where difficult conversations with your salespeople will need to happen without any previous notice, but if you have the time to prepare, it can help the conversation go more smoothly. Here are a few tips to prepare effectively:
First, think about what you want to achieve from the conversation. What is your goal? What do you hope to accomplish? This will help you focus your thoughts and stay on track during the discussion.
Next, try to anticipate what objections or questions your salesperson might have for you. What are they likely to be thinking or feeling about the situation? What might they say in response to your questions? This will help you stay calm and focused if the conversation goes in an unexpected direction.
Finally, make sure you have all the facts straight. Gather any relevant data or information that will support your position. This will help you make your case more effective and give you confidence as their manager during the discussion.
By taking some time to prepare beforehand, you can increase the chances of having a productive and successful conversation – even if it is difficult for both sides.
Like these types of tips and tricks? Check out our blog!
How to follow up after a difficult conversation
After you’ve had a difficult conversation with a sales team member, it’s essential to follow up to maintain a productive and positive relationship. Many managers and their teams unnecessarily carry a dark cloud of awkwardness or tension even though the tough conversation has already happened. It’s the responsibility of sales leadership to own the process of checking in on their salesperson, and there are a few things you can do to ensure that the follow-up is effective.
- Take some time to reflect on the conversation and your own role in it. What could you have done differently? What could you have said or done to make the conversation more productive? It’s vital to be honest with yourself to learn from the experience and avoid making the same mistakes in future discussions.
- Reach out to the sales team member and schedule a time to talk one more time, but this time in a more positive light. If the previous conversation escalated, now is a great time to apologize for any part you played in the negativity. Then, take some time to listen to what the sales team member says about the situation. They may have valuable insights that can help you avoid similar difficulties in future conversations.
- Work together to develop a plan for moving forward to prevent a similar situation. This will help ensure that both you and the sales team member are on the same page and working towards a productive future relationship.
Have difficult conversations to get the most out of your sales team
In closing, remember that the goal of having difficult conversations is not to be confrontational, but rather to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives. There may be times when it’s necessary to have a difficult conversation with your sales team. Perhaps someone isn’t meeting their quotas, or maybe there’s tension among team members that needs to be addressed. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be able to have these conversations constructively. Unfortunately, many people struggle with this and avoid difficult conversations because they don’t want to be confrontational, or they simply don’t know how to go about it.
If you’re struggling to have these conversations, consider seeking out a sales consultant or coach who can help you overcome any communication barriers.